A CONTROVERSIAL chemical weed killer will continue to be used in York – despite concerns about its impact on the environment.

But City of York Council has committed to looking at alternatives to the use of glyphosate to control weeds on the city’s highways.

The authority recently carried out a trial using acetic acid and nonanoic acid, but they did not perform as well as glyphosate. 

Manual weeding would have the lowest environmental impact, but would need extra staff, vehicles and tools – and could cost an extra £100,000, a report said.

In recent years, a number of studies have concluded that glyphosate could be hazardous to bees.

A 2018 lawsuit in America suggested a link between a man’s death from cancer and glyphosate, but the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said glyphosate was unlikely to cause cancer in humans.

Lib Dem councillor Christian Vassie said: “Like everyone else across York, the council has a duty to protect biodiversity for its own sake and because we humans depend on pollinators for our survival.”

Cllr Vassie said more than 80 UK councils had already committed to ending pesticide use and named several councils which are already using mechanical methods.

He added: “We are the conscience of this city. Let this council do the right thing so that our children and their children can be proud of us. Let’s ditch pesticides and protect pollinators.”

Robert Gordon, a York resident and Green Party member, said: “Weed management is obviously an important issue to some residents, but how we manage these weeds is critical as it has the potential to threaten vital ecosystems and the health of people.

“We are facing an unprecedented climate and ecological emergency and the continued use of 460 litres of glyphosate each year by the City of York Council and contractors we hire has alarming repercussions and impacts small animals, and even amphibians and watercourses.”

Public realm operations manager Dave Meigh said the council was on a “journey” regarding its use of glyphosate.

Executive member for the environment and climate change Paula Widdowson approved the continued use of glyphosate for two years, but called for a trial of various alternative methods to take place.

The hot foam method is one non-chemical solution, but a machine can use up to 1,500 litres of water per day.

Labour councillor Kallum Taylor said: “The council should just tell it like it is, instead of trying to be something – a council that prioritises greener practices – which it is not doing here.”